The game of chess originated thousands of years ago in the regions of the middle east and India. Although the precise identities of the inventors have been lost to history, the game’s invention is generally ascribed to the Arabs, Persians, and Indians of antiquity.
The game of Chaturanga, a predecessor of chess, thrived throughout India during the sixth century. Although the development of Chaturanga suggests the game of chess originated in India, the many variants of chess, and its widespread popularity during times and places where scant historical records exist, leaves the exact origin of chess a matter of considerable debate to this day. Modern chess, as played today, did not develop until centuries later.
Chess spread throughout the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Asia along common trade routes during the post-Roman era. By 1,000 AD, chess, and its many variants, had become an integral part of the cultural matrix of many varied societies.
As evidenced by historical text, as well as the ornate pieces and boards constructed from expensive materials, chess during the medieval era was enjoyed primarily by the nobility. The game evolved to its present form in Europe during this era while often being played by the public in seclusion to avoid government prohibitions. Like many enjoyable activities of the time, chess was a pleasure reserved to the few.
Widespread public chess competitions gained popularity during the nineteenth century. Champion players became household names as the game’s popularity with the general public increased. As the all-time iconic strategy board game, the popularity of chess has never faded.